Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking is a Normal Behavior

The entire staff at Smile Time Kids LOVES children. We want to help you in making well-informed decisions for your child’s health and well-being. We enjoy their budding personalities and their constant search for answers. We are a compassionate, caring, and patient team when working with your child. Their young smiles are important to us. Call us today at 765-373-3100 with any questions you have regarding your child or stop by Smile Time Kids at 1002 Oak Drive, Richmond, IN, 47374.

Thumb sucking, along with pacifier use, is perfectly acceptable for infants. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), this is a natural reflex for an infant, even in the womb. This reflex gives your baby comfort and, as they grow, it may help them feel secure and happy. It can also be soothing, and your baby or toddler use it as a coping mechanism when they are anxious or separated from you. The habit helps to induce sleep, and your child may suck their thumb in the evening before bedtime.

The Oral Effects of Too Much Thumb Sucking

If the habit continues past the age of five or six, the pressure and sucking motion will begin to make changes to the mouth and teeth. Skeletal changes will begin to affect the alignment of the permanent or secondary teeth resulting in an open bite. Smile Time Kids can evaluate the changes and provide a referral to an orthodontist for a consultation. In rare instances a dental appliance may need to be placed in the roof of the mouth to achieve a change in behavior. The sooner the habit is stopped, the better the chance that the bite will correct itself.

If you are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking habit, make an appointment for your child at the Smile Time Kids. Our friendly, children-centered office will make your child feel right at home.

A Few Do and Don’ts as a Parent Dealing with Thumb Sucking

Stress over how to handle a child who will not stop sucking their thumb is normal. Our dentists at Smile Time Kids have seen their fair share of patients with a thumb sucking habit. With a little positive reinforcement and some savvy parenting, you can help your child curb their thumb sucking once and for all. Here are some do’s and don’ts for helping your child to stop sucking their thumb.

  • DO: Be Mindful of the Problem- You should watch your child’s thumb sucking to make sure they are not injuring their mouth or their thumb. Watch for aggressive sucking, biting, or constant moisture that can make their lips chapped and sore. If your child exhibits injuries due to thumb sucking, talk with your pediatrician and Smile Time Kids. You should also talk with us if your child is older than four or five years old and still sucks their thumb frequently. Older thumb sucking can show a deeply rooted habit, and we can offer tips, tricks, medicines, or mouth guards to curb the habit.
  • DON’T: Obsess Over Early Thumb Sucking- When you notice a new tooth in your child’s mouth, you might start stressing over their thumb sucking habit. Dentists and pediatricians warn parents not to become fixated on early thumb sucking. It is not likely to become a lifelong habit. The American Dental Association reports that between 85% and 99% of children stop sucking their thumbs on their own before they are four or five years old, so many things you might do before that to prevent thumb sucking could do more harm than good.
  • DO: Use Positive Reinforcement- Compliment your child when you notice they are not sucking their thumb and tell them how proud you are that they are sucking their thumb less. Your child loves to make you proud of them. A little positive reinforcement can help them kick the habit permanently.
  • DON’T: Shame Your Child- Shaming your child by punishing them or pointing the habit out to their peers will not help, but it could hurt their self-esteem.
  • DO: Explain Why Thumb Sucking Is not a Good Idea- Try to take a gentle approach to talking with your child. Explain to your child that thumb sucking could hurt their teeth. Gently approaching these topics in the comfort and safety of your own home could help your child to decide to stop on their own.
  • DON’T: Intentionally Scare Your Child- Some parents try to scare their children out of sucking their thumbs by showing them pictures of damaged teeth or talking to them about complex psychological issues like anxiety. Although it might be tempting to explain the intricacies of thumb sucking to your children, scaring your child could make them feel like they are doing something wrong, when thumb sucking is a quite common issue.

Make an Appointment for Your Child Today!

Smile Time Kids would like to share the recommendations of The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. They suggest bringing your child in for their first dental appointment as soon as their first tooth erupts or by the time your child is one, whichever occurs first. We will work with your child and treat them like family. We love happy and healthy children. Afterwards, children should visit at normal intervals just like you would schedule your own dental checkups. Call 765-373-3100 today to make an appointment with Smile Time Kids. Our office is located at 1002 Oak Drive, Richmond, IN 47374. Let us keep them healthy together.